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Friday, December 6, 2019
Career Expert View Interviews

Geologist: The Earth’s Spy

Babita

Dr Babita Choudhary

Postdoctoral researcher (geology), Guangzhou, China

  • Received Presidential International fellowship Initiative Award for two years from Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • Received Women Scientist fellowship from Department of Science and Technology, India

Currently working on the igneous rock suits from Large Igneous provinces, Dr Babita Choudhary, shares about her exciting career with Brainfeed

What inspired you to become a geologist?

Watching national geography on television during my school days, I was mesmerized with the uniqueness of mountain, highlands, glaciers of the Antarctica, lava-outpour from the volcanoes and frozen cities of Siberia. This fascination inspired me to take geology honours from Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Master’s from IIT Roorkee and PhD from IIT Bombay.

Why did you choose to work on Large Igneous Provinces?

Basically, Large Igneous Provinces (LIPs) represent large volume (>0.1 Mkm3; frequently above ~1 Mkm3) volcanic events of intraplate affinity, occurred in both continental and oceanic settings, and are typically of short duration (<5 million years) or consist of multiple short pulses over a maximum of a few 10s of million years. I am working on 1110 Million years old fragments of continents; today we call them Congo, Kalahari, Amazonia and India. This work is important for earth’s evolutional history and gives an insight into many mineral deposits. Once upon a time in past (geological past) they were part of a single land mass and due to volcanic event that generated massive magma and plate movement, they broke apart and started moving to different orientation. I am using high precision isotopic and geochemistry as tools to fit them on geological frame with other international scientists who are experts in paleomagnetic studies.

Please elaborate on its scope in future.

Geology is the multidisciplinary integrated science and we will always need it to understand our planetary system. It helps to unearth the past and discover future energy sources. Since, geological setting and geological past knowledge is essential to explore the natural resources, potential mineral deposits and water resource, the scope is on a continuous escalation.

What are the qualifications required to become a geologist?

Master’s in Geological sciences/Physics/Mathematics to enter the industries; for academia and research, PhD in Geological sciences/Physics/ Mathematics is required. The role of a geologist is like an investigator or a spy who has several evidences in front of the eyes. He/she has to connect the dots and come out with the best plausible story of an event that occurred millions of years back. Here, analytical skill becomes mandatory.

What are the challenges aspirants might face while pursuing this career?

Geology has lots of field based work as well as experimental laboratory work. Candidate should possess the temperament for both, be adventurous, enthusiastic and be willing to spend time in field. Field refers to remote areas where sometimes drinkable water and amenities may not be available. But it is an opportunity to spend the time in nature and that makes me contended. I got a chance to visit remote part of Andhra Pradesh where I saw and collected the rocks which contained diamonds! I also did field research with International scientists in Lake Baikal, Siberia. So, geology gives opportunities to travel and mingle with diverse people and cultures. These dissolve the obstacles in the path.

Are there any misconceptions regarding this career?

It is mostly confused with geography. The truth is geology is integrated with technology and it is encompasses chemistry, physics, thermodynamics, mathematics, fossils (paleontology where biology is well connected), numerical modelling, minerals, mineral-physics, meteorites and natural resources (oil, gas and mineral deposits).

What is your message for students who wish to become geologists?

Hold a piece of rock in your hand and ask as many questions as possible like how were they formed, from where did they come, what are they made of, what story is  hidden inside, etc. Try to go to your nearest college or university where geology is taught and visit its rock museum, fossil museum and mineral museum. See rocks under microscope. You will be amazed. If you want to become a geologist, just continue with your passion and determination. Your work will reward you with fascinating chronicles.

TOP UNIVERSITIES

  • Harvard University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • University of Illinois
  • Banaras Hindu University
  • Central University of Karnataka

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